Sunday, January 31, 2016

The January Varsity FBC Project: Ethiopia

Varsity FBC is in year two of advanced friendship bracelet making. Our team includes 46 girls from around HSE and across the Midwest. One of my goals for this year is to provide opportunities for these girls to partner together to do small things with great love. Each month I'm going to give them a project where they can make bracelets for a cause. Together we can make a bigger impact than if we were trying to do it on our own.

After bringing home her son Jesse from Ethiopia, Kathy Craig knew that part of her heart would always be in that country and that she would return again soon. She's led multiple mission trips back to Lebu, outside of Addis Ababa, to continue friendships with people there, raise the funds to build a library and open people's eyes to this beautiful part of the world. 

This Spring Break, the first week of April, I have the privilege of joining KCraig on another trip to Ethiopia. This time we're going through Young Life Expeditions and I couldn't be more excited. I had the opportunity to go to Tanzania in college on a Biology trip and to the Dominican Republic with Young Life-- so this trip will be a blending of those experiences.

Our team of 9 includes Kaden (from Summer Staff), KCraig and her daughter Alex, Julia and her mom Janelle, Kaitlyn and Rachel (two more YL girls), one of my best friends Smooney and me. We'll go to a Young Life camp, help lead Club at High Schools, do contact work, visit the Village of Korah (an urban slum in a garbage dump), see the library in Lebu and reconnect with KCraig and Alex's friends.

We'll meet so many different people along the way and want to give some of them friendship bracelets.The Varsity girls spent time making these bracelets that will end up on the wrists of friends they've never met on the other side of the world. That's pretty phenomenal. 

Bracelets for the January Project were made by Claire Shumaker, Mollie Krone, 
Sophie Sams, Elise Ruby, Grace Freund and Sarah Wright.

Update: Ethiopia was all that I hoped for and more. At the beginning of the week we visited Megabi Skate Park and gave friendship bracelets to some of the kids we met there. 

Our hosts and friends for the week were Ethiopians on Young Life staff. I also gave friendship bracelets to some of these dear friends like G, Hanna, Fre, Moges and Becky. 

"I want to have less surface conversations because those are evil. I feel like I joke a lot-- but everyone knows that I really mean in."

When I walked out of church this morning I ran into Elise and Jill Ruby and the whole Craig family. It reminds me a little of the church I grew up in, Delphi United Methodist Church, and how everybody knew everybody. That church was my playground, sanctuary, school, hang out and safe spot-- I laughed and grew more in that building than probably anywhere else during my Delphi years. I'm so thankful for how knit into that community I was after years of Sunday School, youth group, Bible Bowls, musicals, Sunday services, 30 Hour Famine, concerts, and volunteering. I'm so thankful for that season of my history. 

This afternoon I got to hang out with Fudge-- last year I met her at her locker after lunch and walked her to math class every single day. She'd give me updates on her life and she was one of my main characters. Now I'm thankful for days like today when we get to hang out for a couple hours-- asking questions, telling stories, folding laundry and making bracelets. She's a keeper.

They may disagree about eating meat, but Meg and Julia both love rice. We made Top 10 lists of snacks, happy places and the things the other people would save if their house were burning down.

Top 10 Happiest Places To Be In The Universe
1. Green Cathedral on a summer morning
2. The Lodge at Timber Wolf Lake
3. The Longhouse
4. Magic Kingdom watching a parade
5. YL Campaigners
6. Dimnent Chapel at Hope College
7. Closing Campfire on Friday night
8. Anywhere on the Washington, DC Trip
9. Running into Club at YL Camp
10. Starbucks on a coffee date

One of the things I wish I had been more intentional about would be staying in touch with some of my friends at Hope that I've lost touch with. I met Kelly my freshmen year when we were both loving in Dykstra. We lived together again in Van Vleck and then stayed friends all four years. Kelly is so many things-- classy, genuine, patient, thoughtful, loyal, compassionate and full of integrity. Today I stumbled across a post she'd just written. We're worlds apart now, she's pregnant with her third kid and spends most of her days at home as a mom. But I could tell as I was reading her post that her heart is still just the same and it made me miss her. She's a beautiful writer and a beautiful human-- check out  Kelly's new blog.

Week 2 of Jen Hatmaker's Brave Girl series was excellent. I'm loving this time with these friends that feels a little cozier and more focused than Campaigner's, a format change that's working for us right now. After so many years of history together it's so good to dive into these conversations together. Tonight was all about friendship--choosing the best friends, cultivating healthy relationships and and being courageous in community.

Safe, authentic, true friends allow you to be on the outside who you are on the inside.

When you think about your friends, ask yourself these questions:
When I'm with them, Do I love people better? Am I kinder? Do I love God more? Do I feel more like myself?

This is harder: Are you a safe friend? Are you trustworthy, honest, encouraging, not gossiping.

10 Year Rule: Are these the friends you want to be with in 10 years? Are they going where you want to go? Are they good for you?

If you are courageous enough to make hard choices now it will pay off later.

There is no such thing as a completely drama free relationship. That's ok and normal. But you need to learn how to deal with that conflict. Go to your friend 1 on 1, not through text, and I say, "I need to tell you this, I value our friendship too much to let it go." 

"As much as it depends on you, live in peace."

The mark of a good friend is someone who can say sorry and ask forgiveness.

I hope you can dig deep enough for compassion, kindness and humility. Apologize instead of becoming defensive when you've messed up. 

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Three pointers are close to half court right?!?! HOW?!?! I can't believe it! I'm so confused!" YL Pacer's Club

For the third time, all of IN and KY Young Life met in Indianapolis for the Pacers game and YL Club on the court. 2,000 friends fill up a huge chunk of the nose bleed seats, eat hot dogs and chips and cheer on Paul George and his friends. 

The HSE crew showed up in full force-- we love these people.

One of the best parts of the night is seeing friends from YL all over the region. I love leaders Allie and Bailey from Carmel, Matt Williams from Bloomington, Mylene from Carmel and Carolyn from Lafayette.

Oh, and snacks, snacks are one of the best parts of all sports.

We moved down court side for club after the Pacers beat the Nuggets in overtime. As they usually do, the HSE fam had excitement and enthusiasm to share.

Club in the Banker's Life Fieldhouse is crazy-- balloons falling from the balcony, Q and A with a player from the Pacers and Pacer hype men on program.

We belted out What Do You Mean, Sorry, Livin' On A Prayer and Fresh Prince like we were trying to win a Grammy.

Then they called down a YL kid from all 25 YL areas to compete in an epic battle to win a pair of Paul George's size 16, autographed shoes. Julia got called up to represent HSE. She looks plenty terrified and excited doesn't she?

Round 1: Two games of musical chairs.
Julia slid into the chairs and shoved off any other players like a beast.

Round 2: Dizzy Bat Lay Up
Julia told me, "I could hear the counter beside me on 11 when I was on 13 and I just kept thinking GO FASTER!" She spun 15 times, wiped out twice and made the layup in time to move on to the next phase.

Round 3: Basketball Mania
Each of the final 4 YL kids got a turn shooting a layup for one point, a free throw for two and a three pointer for three points.

Julia stood on the sidelines shaking her head saying, "I can't do that! I can't make a layup!" When she stepped up she missed the layup, missed the free throw and then swished the three pointer. The HSE crowd erupted in screams. She just tied one of the guys who had made his first two shots.

Jack, Julia's brother was already in tears. She now had a 50/50 chance of winning Paul George shoes.

Overtime: Three Pointer
Julia and the boy each had one more chance to make a three pointer. The person who made the shot (or got the closest) would win. He hit off the backboard and missed. Then Julia shot AND MADE HER SECOND THREE POINTER!

People stormed the court...

Julia was lifted in the air...

Someone put the net from tonight's game on her like a necklace...

It was a Cinderella story, a Hoosier's moment, and in Julia's words, "Greater than in any moment I ever had in volleyball."

She got Paul George's shoes and didn't let them out of her hands for the rest of the night. So. Freaking. Amazing.

"If that crew hung out we would burn down a building it would be so much fun. When I think of lots of fun I think of burning things."

A couple weeks ago I went fabric shopping with Maddie and Mel for phase 1 of their quilting project. Maddie asked me to help her make art for her bedroom walls so this weekend got busy. Friday we went shopping for supplies, painted the canvases and letters and Maddie modge podged her giant canvas. 

Saturday morning we met back up to finish all of our crafts. I did the lettering on the canvases while Maddie modge podged the letters with string and hole punch dots to give them more pizazz.

Love, love, love. I'm so proud of this collection but the best part was working with Maddie to get it all done. She was beaming as she worked and I'm so glad she'll be surrounded by these words every day.

The most impressive part was that when we showed up with all of the art, her parents immediately sprung into action to hang it all up. Now her walls have plenty of personality and fun. We just have to wait patiently for the quilt to complete the whole room.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"I wish I had a crush so I could like all his pictures. If he had a Twitter I'd favorite all of them."

Thursdays are for Friendship Bracelet Club in the library after school. It's a huge room so the kids spread out and find their own spot. I hope around to the different groups because I want to spend time with everyone. Today I answered 8th graders questions about DC, we tried to find Sarah's new blog and talked about what you think about while swimming laps so you don't get bored.

One of the things I love about Maddie is that she shows up. She's in HS now but she got a ride over to the Clubhouse to show up at FBC. Then she tagged along to hang out with Megan at coffee. I love that when I told Meg that Maddie would be coming along she said, "Oh yes, she's my lady." Unlikely friendships are some of the best. 

I wish I had learned when I was younger that sometimes regular days are the best ones. Today's just a regular old Thursday but I'm doing things I love with people who matter. Days don't have to be climactic to be awesome.

Tonight the "Book" Club met for the second time at the Craig's house. I'm so thankful we're being intentional about bringing together these YL friends that don't always get to cross paths. Tonight was real, vulnerable, honest, difficult and so beautiful. God is good. He's got us even when we don't see him. "God is honored when we live and believe that he is present and active, even when the evidence of his activity is hard to find." -Andy Stanley

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"I think he's a Jedidiah Jenkins. There's this whole category of guys that are Jedidiah's-- they're the greatest."

Haleigh Devoe-- such a rock star and one of my favorite parts of every school day. I love getting to spend time with her every single day.

Taylor Porter-- she is one of my oldest friends at this point and has such a beautiful soul. I love when she has to come back to Indy from Colorado so that our lives can overlap on afternoons like today. I need more of her in my life.

Grace Tully-- this girl is so kind that it just makes you want to be her friend. When she was in 7th grade I didn't get to be her teacher, but I knew I wanted to know her because of how she carried herself at school and the company she surrounded herself with. She'll make you laugh till you cry and she's one of the most loyal 8th graders I know. 

Elizabeth and Allie-- I got lucky this semester and have both of these girls as students. They're sweet, kind, helpful, respectful, smart and full of potential. I love when I get to see them at Wyld Life.

Chloe, Hannah and I got to hang out with a group of 7th grade girls tonight during campaigners. We talked about so many good verses tonight, that kind that you read and think, "Yes, yes, yes. This is truth. This is so good." Sharing those words, working through questions, and listening to these girls is one of my favorite things.

"God began doing a good work in you. And he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again. I am sure of that... This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God." Philippians1:6, 11

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:1-2